Why podcasts are a secret weapon for B2B marketers

Brands that don’t include podcasts as part of their marketing arsenal are missing out on a huge and engaged audience  

Audio content is increasingly seen as a great way to bolster conventional marketing techniques. In 2015, for example, there were 5,200 management and marketing podcasts produced.

As analysts track consistent 10-20% growth in consumption year on year, the headline data on podcasts paints a rosy picture. In America, it is estimated that 67 million people listen to a podcast on a monthly basis, and 42 million do it every week.

Diversity of audience

It’s not only an increasing market, but listenership is diversifying too. Podcasts, formerly the preserve of young people, are now attracting a more mature audience – 25 to 54-year olds are the demographic most likely to tune in.

Podcast consumers are also content evangelists, making them a valuable audience for businesses to tap into. Research suggests podcast listeners tend to be the most enthusiastic social media users, with podcast producers listing word of mouth or social media as their top reason for checking out a new podcast 75% of the time.

B2B podcast choices

A glance over iTunes’ podcast section shows no shortage of brands expanding into the world of audio content.

General Electric is one such company using podcasts to build and strengthen relationships with consumers. It has expertly used the format to boost its industry soft power, with recent sci-fi efforts like ‘The Message’ and ‘LifeAfter’ winning critical acclaim and millions of downloads – expanding GE’s brand to a new level.

Elsewhere, branded audio content is being utilised more directly. NatWest, eBay and IBM have all used podcasts to highlight innovations and developments relevant to their consumers, providing expert insight on niche topics to spread their brand’s word to new audiences.

Politicians are getting in on the action too. ‘With Her’ followed Hillary Clinton on the presidential campaign trail and became a cornerstone of her efforts to reach out to voters. Barack Obama appeared to hundreds of thousands of listeners on comedian Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, speaking candidly about his life pre-presidency and the struggles he faced while in power.

What makes audio content so attractive?

Put simply, podcasts provide an effort-efficient way of pulling in enthusiasts. They provide a more personal feel than written articles without the production costs (time and money) associated with video.

Brands using podcasts as part of their marketing mix use a number of different methods, but they have in common their ability to grab the attention of time-poor C-suite professionals. Whether it’s on the train to work or as a lunchtime treat, podcasts provide an ideal platform for businesses to spread their message in a more informal setting.

With two-thirds of podcasts listened to on a phone or tablet, the mobility of audio content is one of its key attractions. And once hooked, these enthusiasts are loyal: 85% of audio content fans will listen to all or most of a podcast.

Podcasts are also a potentially more profitable vehicle for content than traditional methods. 67% of listeners say they either don’t mind sponsorship messages or find them useful (compared to just 6% of television or commercial radio listeners).

Whether it’s done via original content or through industry updates to demonstrate expertise, the steady growth, consistent engagement and unique advantages for businesses mean podcast uptake is a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

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